The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Friday, June 9, it hoped to save Marawi City by June 12, the country’s 119th Independence Day, and cited the declining volume of fire coming from the terrorists as a sign that the pro-Islamic State groups’ loosening grip on parts of the besieged city would soon be weakened.
With all that being said, this mean that every armed component in Marawi City is either “neutralized, targeted or cleared,” said AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla.
But Brig. Gen. Padilla said that even if the conflict in Marawi City would end, it would not mean that martial law would immediately be lifted because the extremists could have a presence in other part of Mindanao Island, and the security of the entire region should be certain.
The offense against the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups’ strongholds continued on Friday, and the fighters were obtaining progress, he said.
“The chief of staff made an announcement hoping that by Monday, June 12, we can freely wave our flags in every corner of Marawi and we are working feverishly to do that, to ensure we are able to do to a big extent what was announced by the chief of staff,” Padilla said in a Malacañang Palace press briefing.
The latest target date of June 12 was set after the Philippine government missed previous deadlines, with the Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups backed by foreign fighters ISIS putting up firm resistance.
According to Padilla, the authorities widely believe that the nearly three-week Marawi siege would be over soon because the figure of enemy fire has gone down, and the extremists’ activities in certain location of the city has nosedived.
Padilla said AFP Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año was “looking forward to more cleared areas in the next few days and is optimistic that our momentum and our phase is at the right manner.”
Padilla also noted on Friday that before the martial law could be lifted, there has to be an assessment as to whether this could be done following Marawi City’s liberation because the security of the entire island of Mindanao, not just of one city, has to be contemplated.
Padilla also said that government soldiers were still planning to raise the Philippine national flag in Marawi City on Monday for the nation’s Independence Day even if the war continues. The act would represents that the Philippine government has regained control of the municipality.
As for the return of the residents to their homes in Marawi City, Padilla said authorities would give the go signal once it is safe to return to their houses.
He also said the AFP was prepping its military forces who could assist in the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City.